What can I say….”WOW, WHAT An INCREDIBLE TRIP!”
Wild Hores of Wyoming. The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range located in Wyoming is no secret to the world. You can google the range, buy books about the horses and you can even look up their names that people have given them.
These horses are unique. Thier lineage links back to the Spanish Conquistadors and these horses ancestors have been wondering the mountains well before any of our time. The thing that I found to be so amazing, was that the horses are just up in the Pryor Mountains, existing all on their own in a serene oasis of an environment.
Wade and I loaded up the 4 wheelers, checked the Pups into the puppy spa for the week and set off on our way to Red Lodge Montana. I had been hearing about this so-called “Wild Horse Range” from my friend Colleen. Colleen, a fellow photographer and her husband Jim, or “Jimmy” as I like to call him, had traveled high up into the Pryor Mountains via ATV’s to go and see these horses on a number of occasions. Colleen had been telling me about this place for a number of years and I was so happy when we finally set a date for them to take Wade and me into the Pryor’s to go and see them.
60 miles from Red Lodge, just over the Montana/Wyoming border; we wound our way from the lush green pastures of Montana into the desert barren red rock landscape of Wyoming. I had no idea that Wyoming could look so much like Moab in specific sections, but we had found ourselves on a Red dusty hot desert road, on route to the base of the Pryor’s.
After unloading the ATV’s and getting all of the gear strapped down, we headed out! The Hot sun was pounding down on our backs and we had 2 hours, around 26miles of ground to cover. We were headed UP. High up into the mountains, approximately 8500ft up.
The canyons weaved around switchback style, up cliff’s and around dry desert dirt trails. The vegetation, mostly Sage Brush, littered our surroundings releasing a wonderful fragrance in the air as we motored on by. The sun was HOT…I mean, it was maybe steadily in the high 80s, but when you are in the desert, away from the shade and water, you seem to only be able to focus on how dry everything looks and how dry the back of your mouth feels!
Around 12miles in, Wade and I stopped to see our first wild horses. Most of the horses stay up high, where the vegetation is rich and green and the temperatures are cooler. Some of the Wild horses though wander down into the “Dead Zone” or the canyon below where foraging for vegetation is difficult, but luckily drain ditches to catch water and wells are set up to help hydrate the herd as they move around the area.
Colleen and Jimmy led the way up the hillside, stopping here and there to take in the views and point out specific features. As we climbed up the canyon, looking out to the West, you could see the Beartooth Mountain range and to the east, the Big Horn canyon. As we ventured higher and higher you could start to see Mustang piles on the trail. Jimmy told me that Mustangs will relieve themselves on other Mustang piles in order to assert dominance. The red rock eventually turned into trees and then suddenly the hillside looked like we had stepped out into rolling green hills of Ireland.
As we made the final push up the hillside, we eventually could see the horses off in the distance. All hanging out in the hot afternoon sun and squished together on a leftover pile of snow. Attempting to stay cool and hopefully ward off the relentless bugs, the horses just relaxed and didn’t pay much attention to us, onlookers.
The green pastures looked fake, especially after just climbing up from the red dusty dry canyon below. The best way to describe what I saw, was that it was like a mirage or an oasis. This Oasis was sitting in the middle of nowhere. Crowds of horses and some people observing each other. The horses going about their business; Mustangs trying to keep their ladies in check and the continually asserting their dominance over of their male counterparts in order to not loose any of their females.
We found a pretty little spot to set up camp for the night, with a view of the horses in front and a view of Big Horn Canyon out back and below, we cooked ourselves a feast fit for kings and settled into photographing and enjoying the surroundings. That evening, storms rolled overhead, creating an amazing sunset and light that would have been any photographers dream. I photographed over 225GBs worth of images in that day and a half we spent up in the hills.
This trip and experience is hard for me to put into words. I am better at taking images, then I am at describing what I saw, thought and felt.
I just feel very fortunate to have had this adventure. Getting out of the norm and going off into the wilderness is not only photographically inspiring to me but it’s one of those adventures that I like to classify as a
“GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL ADVENTURE”
Enjoy the gallery of images. I know there are a lot!
Equipment Used: Nikon D4s, Sigma 150-600mm Sport,
Nikon D810, 70-200mm f2.8, 16-35mm f4 and Sigma 24mm f1.4
The pictures at the end are from the Bearthooth Mountain range. We where lucky enough to come across a family of Mountain Goats.
Tags: adventure, atv, atving, big horn valley, campning, coleman stove, horses, landscape, landscape photography, mares, marmot tents, mountains, munstangs, mustang, Nikon, nikon d4s, nikon d810, pryor mountains, pryors, red rock, Sigma, sigma 150-600mm sport, sigma lenses, spanish horses, tent, wild, wild horses, wyoming, yeti